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25 Oct

Sub-Saharan Africa trails other regions in its annual share of remittances and it is taking steps to raise it in order to fund much-needed development.

Total Remittances into sub-Saharan are expected to rise by 2 percent this year, from $21 billion, despite a faltering world economy.In global terms it is not as high as other regions for instance Mexico alone receives a comparable number that the entire sub-Saharan Africa receives.Remittance flows represent a significant share of gross domestic product for Kenya and many African countries. In smaller economies like Cape Verde and Lesotho, funds sent home by the nations citizens abroad account for more than a quarter of GDP.These are quite significant flows going into these countries and hence the need to have a very focused strategy on how remittances can be used to leverage development.

Proposals for enhancing the continent’s share of remittances include, efficiency of data collection –World Bank estimates 20 percent of money sent is not captured officially– use of technology and a risk-based approach to supervision.

Kenya’s mobile-phone based money transfer service, M-Pesa is as an example of technological innovations that can be deployed in the push for more remittances by the continent.Set up in March 2007 by telecoms operator Safaricom, M-Pesa had more than 12.6 million customers and 20,000 agents countrywide as at Aug 30 this year.Last year, the company launched the service in Britain, allowing users to send money from both countries.The total value of funds transferred on the service swelled to 33.32 billion shillings in July from 28.59 billion in March.Last year, the company launched the service in Britain, allowing users to send money from both countries.

Plans are afoot to extend the service to other foreign countries to allow more people to send money home. Authorities can also help by devising risk-based supervision of remittances.


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